Undefeated welterweight prospect Malik “Ice Man” Hawkins meets fellow unbeaten Carlos Soto in the eight-round co-feature from The Theater at MGM National Harbor, MD., just outside Washington, D.C on April 14.
Malik was originally scheduled to face Venezuelan amateur standout Juan Ruiz, but due to an injury in his right hand, Ruiz was forced to withdraw.
In the main event of the Showtime televised tripleheader, former Russian amateur standout Dmitry Bivol defends his interim WBA Light Heavyweight belt against Samuel Clarkson and unbeaten Glenn Dezurn meets two-time national amateur champion Leroy Davila in an eight-round super bantamweight showdown.
Malik, (10-0, 7 KOs), of Baltimore, Md., amassed a 92-8 record in the amateurs and won the Bronze Medal in the 2012 Junior Olympics. He shares the same trainer –Calvin Ford– with stablemate and IBF Junior Lightweight Champion Gervonta Davis.
“I’m excited and eager to get in the ring,” said 21-year-old Hawkins, “My new opponent is another reason for me to stay focused and work ever harder. There’s a lot at stake for me. This is the first step to give my child the life I never had.
“I don’t know anything about the dude,” he laughed, “But I never really look up at who I’m fighting anyway. Training is going great and I’m in the best shape I have ever been in my career. I can feel it; it’s going to be an epic night for me.”
With a new mouth to feed, just before the biggest fight of his career, Hawkins could be excused for feeling some extra pressure. “I’ve fought on TV before, but there’s no doubt this is a bigger stage. I can’t say how I will win, but let’s just say that by the end of the fight, you’ll all know I won.”
Soto, (13-0-2, 7 KOs), a seven-year pro from Torreon, Mexico is making his United States and television debut. He’s coming off of a third-round TKO over Alonso Martinez in February following a three-year hiatus due to issues with his promoter. He’s a licensed engineer and a full time, CrossFit-certified personal trainer and.
"I’ve been active in the gym and I’m very confident in my abilities,” said the 28-year-old. “I’ve been training for about a year, and I’ve been in fighting shape for about a year. I also ran two marathons during that time.
"I see myself as a boxer-puncher. I can box on the outside, but I can also mix it up on the inside. I’m intelligent in the ring and aggressive – I can go forward – but I have the option to either box or punch. I can be effective either way, depending on how the fight goes.
"I’ve seen a couple of videos of Malik Hawkins. He’s tall, he’s got good distance. He’s fast and intelligent, but I haven’t seen him put together many punches. I see him more as a passive, tactical type fighter, not someone who’s going to be aggressive like me.
"I’m there to fight, I won’t ever quit on my stool. I’ve got a lot of heart and a lot of desire. I’m very proud of my undefeated record, and I’m very motivated to keep my winning streak alive.”